It’s Olympic Gold for US Women’s Soccer Team
In a rematch of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup final, the United States turned the table from last year’s result and defeated Japan in the Women’s Soccer Olympic final. Carli Lloyd tallied twice to give the Americans a 2-1 win over the Japanese. With the win, the US win their third consecutive Olympic gold in women’s soccer. It is the US 4th gold medal in the five times it has been offered as a sport for women in the Olympics.
The 80,203 gathered to watch the match at Wembley Stadium set a record for the largest crowd to ever see a women’s soccer match in Great Britain and the largest turnout for a women’s Olympic soccer match.
“It was such a journey. It was so emotional. It was up-and-down and we all did it together. We were such a unit and we leaned on each other when we needed to. We ended up on top and I’m so happy. We’re the best in the world right now,” said Alex Morgan, who assisted on the first goal.
The Americans got busy early as they looked to put Japan on the back foot. In the 8th minute of play Alex Morgan latched onto a ball and dribbled to the touch line, looping a cross over the goal box that looked like it would be full volleyed into the goal by Abby Wambach, who had 5 goals in her 5 Olympic matches so far. But it was Lloyd who came charging through the goal area and headed in Morgan’s cross to put the Americans up 1-0.
With the early but slim lead the US knew it couldn’t sit back as Japan was dangerous throughout the tournament, which they proved in the 17th minute. Nahomi Kawasumi took a shot that beat American keeper Hope Solo and looked goal-bound. Christie Rampone was able to get in the way of the shot to block it but the rebound went to Japan’s Yuki Ogimi who fired at goal only to be denied by a recovering Solo.
Just a minute later it was Solo to the rescue again when Ogimi headed the ball with pace towards the goal. The US keeper jumped high to her left and pushed the ball into the crossbar.
The US seemed to have a bit of luck with officiating again in this match when a cross in the 26th minute hit Tobin Heath’s arm as she swung it up to protect herself. The referee signaled to play on and the US avoided giving Japan a game-tying penalty kick opportunity.
Th US showed better possession again to start the second half and in the 54th minute it was Lloyd again who scored with an assist to Megan Rapinoe who fed her midfield partner through. Lloyd dribbled 25 yards and then created just enough room to launch a 20-yard blast that found the far post netting.
However, Japan was not conceding and continued to pressure the US. They finally got on the board in the 63rd minute after some sustained possession.
Shinobu Ohno played in a cross to Homare Sawa who was open near the penalty spot. Sawa struck her shot that beat Solo but Rampone was on the line to deny the goal. The rebound found its way to Sawa, which she calmly laid over to Ogimi passed the ball in from two yards out.
Lloyd looked for her third of the night when in the 82nd minute the midfielder came in from the left and tried to curl the ball around the defense. But her curling ball went just high of the upper 90.
The US had one last scare with only minutes left in the match. Rampone had a mental lapse and gave the ball up in the US defensive third allowing Mana Iwabuchi to walk in nearly uncontested. From 15 yards out she slammed a shot to the far post, but Solo was up to the task and dove hard slapping the ball away from goal and out of danger.
US coach Pia Sundhage, who was found after the match playing air guitar and singing along to Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA which was blasting over the PA system, had nothing but praise for Carli Lloyd, who was named Women of the Match. “I’m so proud of her because she played so many games and all of a sudden I thought she wasn’t good enough. Then she just comes back and helps the team tremendously and she proved that I was wrong. I love that.”
When told of Sundhage’s comment Lloyd said, “When someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m going to prove them wrong. That’s what a champion is all about and that’s what I am – a champion. I fought harder, dug deeper and I wanted to make all those doubters out there wrong and that’s what I did.”
“This was a year’s worth of work and the sacrifices all of us have had to make for our friends and families, for the players that didn’t make the roster, this goes out to all of our fans that cheered us on last summer and were equally as heartbroken as we were,” said U.S. forward Abby Wambach. “This year has been trials and tribulations, we lost to Japan a few times, and this win feels like everything has come full circle. I’m so proud of this team for never giving up. It was a team effort for this entire tournament and it shows what it takes to win championships — it’s teamwork and loyalty and trusting in each other.”